Marco Silva is aiming to unlock the goalscoring potential he believes exists throughout his Everton team.
The Blues have struck 23 times in 16 Premier League games this season, with 14 of those goals provided by the attacking duo of Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Left-back Lucas Digne opened his Everton account with a fabulously executed free-kick to salvage a point for his side against Watford on Monday. The Frenchman’s fellow defenders Seamus Coleman and Michael Keane have also been on target this term – but it is Everton’s forwards who have almost exclusively provided the side’s goals.
Silva is working, in particular, on ways for his team to exploit set-piece situations, with the height and muscle of Everton’s current centre-back pairing of Keane and Yerry Mina, allied to Digne and Sigurdsson's precise dead-ball striking, a potentially reliable route to goal.
“We have to improve on our offensive set pieces and we are working on that because we have the conditions to score more goals in those moments,” Silva told evertontv.
“To be honest, it [goals from a variety of sources] is something we want and our central defenders are part of this process.
“The main thing for them is to keep our team solid – not just them, everything [defensively] starts up front.
“But they are part of our offensive process, too, and it is something I want more from our central defenders because they have the capacity to score more goals.”
Brazilian Richarlison is joint-fourth in the Premier League scoring charts with eight, while Sigurdsson has hit the net on six occasions. Keane, Coleman and Digne have struck once each, with Everton’s remaining six goals this term divvied up equally between the forward trio of Theo Walcott, Cenk Tosun and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Calvert-Lewin and Tosun both came off the bench as Everton hunted a leveller against Watford earlier this week.
But when Everton were awarded a free-kick 22 yards from goal in the game’s closing moments, it was Digne who raced to grab the ball before bending his strike around Watford’s defensive wall and inside goalkeeper Ben Foster’s right-hand post.
The former Paris Saint-Germain player, who has 23 international caps and represented his country at the 2014 World Cup, has quickly established himself as a fixture in Everton’s back four.
Digne has been watching a lot of Messi in training. Fabulous freekick levels it in the 96th minute.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) December 10, 2018
Digne made his first start for the Club following his summer arrival from Barcelona in a 1-1 draw with Huddersfield Town back in September and has been on the pitch for every minute of Everton’s subsequent 12 Premier League matches. No top-flight player has provided more crosses this season than Digne's 128. Indeed, with the exception of Watford full-back Jose Holebas, no other player in the division has sent over more than 100 deliveries.
“He is settling in really fast,” said Silva. “In my opinion, when you are a really good football player – and he is – when you are a really focused player – and he is – it is easy to understand [why Digne has swiftly adapted to Premier League football].
“He comes to USM Finch Farm every day to work really hard and he is a very good professional, with high quality.
“He is playing so well, improving every time, not just in our defensive process… he is a really important player in our offensive process as well.”